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Constitutional Law

First Amendment Center First Amendment Center

News related to the first amendment of the US Constitution and freedom of speech issues.
By First Amendment Center

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Last Entry: April 20, 2011 at 20:00:00

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House votes to repeal FCC's 'network neutrality' rules

Posted on April 10, 2011
WASHINGTON ? House Republicans have passed a bill to repeal federal rules barring Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with traffic on their networks, saying the government should keep its hands off the Internet. Republicans, in voting to repeal rules on "network neutrality" set down by the Federal Communications Commission, said the agency lacked the authority to promulgate the rules...

Kan. justices strike down law targeting gambling devices

Posted on April 10, 2011
TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas law aimed at keeping gambling machines out of bars and other businesses is unconstitutional because it?s broad enough to apply to any computer and even games such as ?Twister? and ?Chutes and Ladders,? the state Supreme Court ruled late last week...

Ill. House votes to bar release of gun owners' names

Posted on April 10, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. ? The Illinois House has approved legislation that would bar the state police from releasing the names of people legally allowed to own guns, a response to fears by many firearm owners that their privacy could soon be compromised. The measure, H...

Records on MLK Day bomb to remain sealed

Posted on April 09, 2011
SPOKANE, Wash. ? Documents related to the arrest of a man in the planting of a bomb along a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route will remain sealed for now, a federal judge said this week. U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush on April 7 said he was concerned that the release of the documents would make it difficult for Kevin Harpham, 36, of Addy, to receive a fair trial...

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IRS awards $4.5 million to whistleblowing accountant

Posted on April 08, 2011
PHILADELPHIA ? An in-house accountant who raised a red flag about a tax lapse that his employer then ignored, leading him to tip off the IRS, has received $4.5 million in the first IRS whistleblower award. The accountant's tip netted the IRS $20 million in taxes and interest from the errant financial-services firm...

Pa. board limits news-media access to 'election central'

Posted on April 08, 2011
LANCASTER, Pa. — A central Pennsylvania county elections board has taken final action barring reporters from the building where election night ballots are tabulated, a move media organizations say would obstruct what should be an open and public process...

Girls Gone Wild founder cleared in civil case

Posted on April 08, 2011
PANAMA CITY, Fla. ? An all-female federal jury decided yesterday that Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis is not liable for the emotional distress four anonymous plaintiffs claimed to have suffered from appearances in one of his videos. The verdict followed an eight-day trial in Panama City...

Calif. judge: Gay-rights group can canvass outside Target

Posted on April 08, 2011
SAN DIEGO ? A judge ruled yesterday that a San Diego pro-gay marriage group can continue canvassing outside of Target stores in California, but the group's volunteers must stay 30 feet away from store entrances and canvass at just one entrance at a time...

Md. prisons won't ask for keys to job seekers' social-media accounts

Posted on April 07, 2011
HAGERSTOWN, Md. ? Maryland's prison agency said yesterday that it would no longer ask prospective correctional officers for the keys to their social-media accounts after the American Civil Liberties Union complained that requiring job applicants to divulge Facebook usernames and passwords violates privacy laws...

ACLU questions cancelling of Cuban music concert in Fla.

Posted on April 07, 2011
MIAMI — The American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday the cancellation of a South Florida music festival featuring artists from Cuba may have violated the event organizers? constitutional right to free speech. Organizers made official yesterday a February decision to cancel the Fuego Cuban Music Worlds Festival, which had been scheduled for April 9...

News media barred from hearing in slaying of NFL player

Posted on April 07, 2011
MIAMI ? Reporters and cameras will be barred from a key evidence hearing in the case against four men accused of fatally shooting Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched 2007 robbery at his home, a judge ruled yesterday. Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy agreed with defense attorneys that the hearing on whether to allow purported confessions or incriminating statements at trial should be closed so that prospective jurors aren't exposed to material that might skew their view of the high-profile case...

Federal judge orders national park to release documents

Posted on April 07, 2011
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — A former Acadia National Park restaurant employee has won his lawsuit seeking documents about a 2008 confrontation between rangers and a group of young people atop the park?s Day Mountain that left him with serious facial injuries...

Breyer: Apply Founders' values pragmatically

Posted on April 06, 2011
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer argued yesterday that judges needed to apply the Constitution's values with an eye toward the changing times as he talked about the past successes and missteps of the nation's highest court...

Ill. judge: Pharmacists don't have to dispense 'morning-after' pill

Posted on April 06, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. ? Illinois pharmacists can't be forced to dispense emergency contraception, a judge ruled yesterday. After a nearly six-year struggle, Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz said requiring pharmacists to sell the so-called morning-after pill violates state right-of-conscience law and the First Amendment...

Man sues Va. prisons for denying literary CDs

Posted on April 06, 2011
RICHMOND, Va. — A Louisiana man sued Virginia?s prison system April 4, claiming a policy that prevents him from buying a spoken word CD by a renowned British author for an inmate but allows music and religious CDs is unconstitutional. Owen North attempted to buy a CD titled Dylan Thomas: The Caedmon Collection as a Christmas present for his friend, Shawn Goode, a prisoner at Nottoway Correctional Center...

Prisoner-rights group sues over refusal of its publications

Posted on April 06, 2011
Prison Legal News, a prisoner-rights group that publishes materials for inmates, has sued in federal court, contending that a California county and sheriff violated the First Amendment by censoring PLN's publications. PLN publishes a monthly journal, Prison Legal News, which features commentary on court rulings, prison issues and other criminal-justice matters...

High court rejects Nader?s appeal of ballot rules

Posted on April 05, 2011
WASHINGTON ? The Supreme Court has turned away Ralph Nader's appeal of a Hawaiian court's decision keeping him off the state's presidential ballot in 2004. The high court refused yesterday to hear Nader's appeal. Elections officials kept Nader off Hawaii's 2004 ballot because supporters had failed to submit the required number of signatures...

Mo. ethics law struck down on free-speech grounds

Posted on April 05, 2011
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. ? A Missouri Senate committee is considering legislation that could revive part of a 2010 ethics law struck down last week by a judge. At issue is a provision that limited the ability of political action committees to shuffle money among other such committees...

N.J. teacher suspended for Facebook posts

Posted on April 05, 2011
PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey school district suspended a first-grade teacher after parents complained that she had posted derogatory comments about her students on her Facebook page. The Record newspaper reports that the teacher wrote about feeling like ?a warden? and referred to her 6- and 7-year-old students as future criminals...

U. of Wis. chancellor to release some e-mails sought by state GOP

Posted on April 05, 2011
MADISON, Wis. ? The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison says she will release some of a history professor?s e-mails that were requested by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, but she's withholding others to protect "academic freedom." The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Chancellor Biddy Martin responded on April 1 to a request for e-mails involving professor William Cronon, who had written about the American Legislative Exchange Council...

High court allows Ariz. religious-school tax break

Posted on April 04, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rejected a challenge today to an Arizona tax break that directs millions of dollars to private religious schools. The justices, in a 5-4 ruling, said that Arizona taxpayers who filed a lawsuit to block the tax break have no legal claim because they are not forced to contribute to the state program that sends money to the religious schools...

6th Circuit reinstates inmate's retaliation claim

Posted on April 04, 2011
A federal appeals court has reinstated a prisoner?s First Amendment claim that Michigan prison officials retaliated against him after he claimed he was receiving inadequate medical care. Inmate Jerry Vandiver alleged that prison officials at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson denied him health care after he spoke out ?concerning prisoners' health care needs? and sought access to the courts...

7th Circuit won't halt Wis. public-financing system

Posted on April 04, 2011
MILWAUKEE ? A federal appeals court turned aside a request April 1 to block the state?s public-financing system from providing matching funds to candidates for tomorrow?s state Supreme Court election. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling came hours after an anti-abortion group and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the financing system filed an emergency request for an injunction...

Federal judge sides with group sponsoring Muslim-defector bus ads

Posted on April 04, 2011
DETROIT ? A group that says it helps Muslims quit their faith has won a court order against Detroit's regional transit system for rejecting bus ads that ask, "Fatwa on your head? ... Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!" U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood granted a preliminary injunction on March 31 against the bus system, which was sued last year by the American Freedom Defense Initiative...

Calif. high court revives juror's Facebook case

Posted on April 03, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider the case of a Sacramento juror who refused to turn over his Facebook postings about the trial he was hearing. Arturo Ramirez served on a jury in a 2008 gang-related beating case...

Federal judge upholds Wis. campaign-finance law

Posted on April 02, 2011
MILWAUKEE ? A federal judge ruled against two lawsuits yesterday that challenged Wisconsin's law on financing Supreme Court elections ? less than a week before the vote. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Wisconsin Center for Economic Prosperity and school-choice advocate George Mitchell filed a lawsuit in 2009, contending the law violated their free speech and wanting to halt the public-financing process for this election...

Obama gets openness award in closed session

Posted on April 01, 2011
WASHINGTON ? President Barack Obama accepted an award for making the government more open and transparent ? presented to him behind closed doors with no news coverage or public access allowed. The discrepancy between the honor and the circumstances under which it was delivered bothered open-government advocates in attendance, they said yesterday...

House panel grills Homeland Security officials about FOIA delays

Posted on April 01, 2011
WASHINGTON ? Republicans in Congress objected yesterday to the Homeland Security Department?s now-rescinded practice of requiring secretive reviews by political advisers of hundreds of requests for government files under the Freedom of Information Act...

N.Y. legislators propose limits on posting crime-scene images

Posted on March 31, 2011
ALBANY, N.Y. ? Staten Island lawmakers have proposed making it a felony for New York emergency personnel to take and circulate unauthorized crime-scene images or videos, citing a photo posted on Facebook that showed a woman found strangled in her apartment in 2009...

New Ark. measure would hitch up saggy pants in schools

Posted on March 31, 2011
Exposed underwear and portions of buttocks and breasts may be a thing of the past in Arkansas schools, as the state Legislature has passed a bill that prohibits the wearing of clothing in such revealing ways in public schools and at school-sponsored events...

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